Review: Norco Fluid FS Carbon - A Comfortable Companion

Jan 26, 2024 at 19:27
by Dario DiGiulio  
Norco released the latest version of the alloy Fluid as the bike for "every rider, every trail," and hit the nail on the head when it came to the spec, geometry, overall performance, and ultimately, cost. Priced between $2,000 and $4,000 USD, it really hit a sweet spot for many riders.

That made the introduction of the Fluid Carbon a bit puzzling, given the big jump in cost relative to the performance gains, but assumptions aren't why we're here. The carbon front triangle does save 600 grams compared to the alloy, while also providing some improved characteristics on trail.

With a 130/140mm travel layout, 29" wheels front and rear, and a carbon front triangle mounted to an aluminum rear, the Fluid FS Carbon still aims to be the bike for every rider and every trail, just with a lighter overall package and fancier accoutrement.
Fluid Carbon Details

• 29" wheels
• 130mm frame travel, 140mm fork
• 65° head angle
• 430-535mm reach (510mm size XL)
• Size-dependent chainstay length (440mm size XL)
• 77° seat tube angle, size dependent
• 4 sizes available, XL tested
• Weight: 32.9 lb / 14.9 kg (XL)
• Price: $5,999 USD
norco.com




bigquotesEasy going, right out of the gate. The Fluid's geometry puts you in a confident, neutral body position, and the suspension is there to keep things in shape as you start to push the speed and rally through rougher terrain.Dario DiGiulio




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Frame Details

It's the Fluid, but in carbon! Well, not entirely. The Fluid's Carbon and Alloy variants are identical, save for the front triangle, which in this case is made of those luxurious black fibers we've grown so used to. Otherwise, the rear ends are both aluminum, with the same linkage parts, hardware, geometry, and kinematic.

With the carbon front triangle come some little creature comforts to suit the fancier frame. The internal cable routing has well-designed gizmos to clamp them at the lower exit, as well as multiple plug options for the top entry to suit whatever cable orientation you're using, be it moto brakes, wireless everything, or some other elusive third option you've cooked up. There's a small but elegant detail on the chainstay, with two exit ports at the rear end to suit either SRAM or Shimano drivetrains, as they both function best with a certain cable orientation. I'd personally prefer external routing, but well-thought-out executions like this make internal bikes much easier to live with.

Like the alloy bike, there is a UDH hanger out back, excellent dropper insertion, and a simple yet effective 4-bar suspension layout.

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Geometry & Sizing

Norco has an excellent grasp on geometry and sizing, and the Fluid is a fine example of that understanding. Via their Ride Aligned sizing concept, the bikes scale proportionally with each size jump, to assure you're not simply stretching out the reach and hoping everything else falls into place. In the case of the Fluid, the geo is optimized for all-around trail riding, with a definite bias towards steeper terrain, thanks in large part to a high front end.

The four sizes available all share a 65° head angle, 30mm bottom bracket drop, and all fall between 76° and 77° in the seat angle, with the larger sizes erring on the steeper side. Reach numbers grow by 30mm per size, starting at 420mm and ending at 510mm; head tubes grow by 10mm, and stack by 9mm. Chainstays are also size-specific, getting 5mm longer with each jump, with 425mm shorties on the Small and a well-balanced 440mm on the Extra Large.

You can generally rely on the Ride Aligned system to dial in your setup, find fit information, and even choose a bike size. At 6'3", the sizing calculator firmly places me on an XL, with a 510mm reach and 644mm stack. I abided to the robot's assertions, and though the bike fit well, I would have been just as happy on the size Large. I feel like this comes up in just about every review, but I'm generally a fan of erring on the small size when I'm caught between two options, as my local terrain benefits that sort of fit and handling.

Be that as it may, the XL was comfortable, roomy, and well balanced feeling, with handling that still felt plenty intuitive. More on that later in the ride impressions.

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Suspension Design

The Fluid relies on a 210x55mm shock to deliver 130mm of rear wheel travel, driven by a fairly typical 4-bar layout. Norco is striving for anything but typical when it comes to the suspension performance, however, with a serious effort putting in to balancing the factors to deliver a well-rounded ride characteristic.

Norco is tight-lipped when it comes to any sort of graphical suspension information, but their engineers were willing to divulge their parameters and design goals for some of the kinematics.

On Leverage:
bigquotesOne of our goals for the Fluid was to rely less on air spring progression for support by adding progression to the leverage curve to get a better balance of support from air spring and compression damping. In order to do this while keeping shock pressures in check for heavier riders and hit 130mm of rear travel, we needed to bump up shock stroke. The Fluid runs a 210x50 where as the Optic runs a 190x45 shock. This let us bump overall progression significantly on the Fluid compared to the Optic. The leverage curve progression is also very consistent through travel and doesn’t become regressive in end stroke like you sometimes see. We’ve found a curve with consistent progression through travel helps with shock tuning and provides a consistent feel as you push into the bike.

On Anti-Squat:
bigquotesWe look at anti-squat, leverage curve and damper tune as all contributing to the pedaling characteristics of the bike. Getting more support from the leverage curve and damping circuit helps to support the rider under acceleration and lets us reduce anti-squat while still having a bike that pedals well. It can be a bit of a different feel to bikes with high anti-squat that may have a bit more get up and go under power on smooth trails but we’ve found our approach to give a good balance between an efficient feel on smooth trails while providing traction for technical climbing.

Like the alloy Fluid before it, the Fluid Carbon's shock has been tuned to match the characteristics of this specific kinematic. By no means is this unusual, but it's worth keeping in mind if you're going to be "upgrading" and swapping shocks right out of the gate.

Specifications
Price $5999
Travel 140mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate, 210x50mm
Fork RockShox Pike Ultimate, 140mm
Headset FSA Sealed Bearing
Cassette SRAM 1275 T-Type, 10-52T
Crankarms SRAM GX DUB T-Type, 30T
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB BSA Threaded
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX Eagle AXS T-Type
Chain SRAM GX Eagle T-Type
Shifter Pods SRAM Pod Controller with MMX
Handlebar One Up Carbon, 800mm, 20mm Rise
Stem 6061 Alloy, 40mm Length, 35mm Clamp
Grips WTB Wavelength
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC, Organic Pads
Wheelset Crank Brothers Synthesis Enduro Alloy
Tires Vittoria Mazza 2.4 / Martello 2.35"
Seat Fizik Alpaca Terra
Seatpost SDG Tellis VS



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Test Bike Setup

Thanks to the Ride Aligned system, most of my settings were very easy to find right out of the gate. Norco's setup recommendations are still the best I've encountered in the market, and offer granularity that other calculators don't even consider. Sure, bar width, tire pressure, and stem length might be second nature to experienced riders, but to some these are all daunting steps to take in getting used to setting up a mountain bike's many variables.

I have a good amount of experience with all the components featured on the C1 build, and generally found myself pretty aligned (ha) with the settings Norco recommended. The calculator recommended 84psi in the fork, I ran 90. It suggested 214psi in the shock, and I ended up between 210 and 215. If anything, it's a great starting place to get rolling and comfortable on a new ride.

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Dario DiGiulio
Location: Bellingham, WA, USA
Height: 6'3" / 191cm
Inseam: 34" / 86cm
Weight: 180 lbs / 81.6 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @danger_dario

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Climbing

In fear of making this a theme of the review, I'm going to characterize the Fluid's climbing character as neutral. I suppose saying that is kind of a cop-out, but it just strikes a nice balance between grip and support that makes for a pleasant time over varying terrain. It doesn't necessarily urge you to hammer on the pedals at any sign of free speed, but instead offers a comfortable and capable platform to pick through tech sections and motor up fire roads alike. I found the body position comfortable, even on the 510mm reach bike, which is pretty much the limit of my comfort range.

Thanks to the ample rear center, long reach, and high stack, you're really in the middle of the bike, which makes body English a bit less necessary in moderately technical sections, but can sometimes be a handful if you're really trying to muscle the bike around. I didn't run into any major frustrations with this, but simply noticed that there was more bike to move when it was tight and picky.

I'm not going to make any claims about noticing the weight savings of the carbon frame, because 600 grams - though a significant chunk - isn't enough to separate an XC whippet from a big beefy enduro rig. Imagine a water bottle that you've taken a few sips out of, then imagine an empty one; that's the difference. That said, if you're pining for the lightest Fluid in all the land, then the carbon frame is obviously a good start.

Fun fact: the lightest fluid is actually hydrogen, but you'll have to cool it down to -253°C to get that gas to change state.

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Descending

Easy going, right out of the gate. The Fluid's geometry puts you in a confident, neutral body position, and the suspension is there to keep things in shape as you start to push the speed and rally through rougher terrain. Those fundamentals are key to a good bike, and in this case they're identical to the preexisting aluminum-framed Fluid. As to whether the carbon frame offers a significant upgrade to that platform, I have a harder time saying so definitively. I enjoyed my time on both forms of Fluid, so don't let this come across as disparagement, it's just simply a matter of choosing between your preferred frame material.

We did thorough testing of that alloy Fluid in the last trail bike focused Field Test, and it performed favorably in a group of bikes that were uniformly more expensive and exotic. The carbon Fluid is still the same bike, though that relative cost factor is lost a bit. Some might find the frame feel of the carbon front end to really elevate their experience, but for me the two were similar enough that I wouldn't be too biased one way or the other. Don't consider this a rebuke on carbon in general, Norco just did a great job of making their alloy frame stiff enough and deliver a comfortable ride feel.

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I wouldn't call the Fluid an wildly exciting bike, it's more in the capable and controlled camp. You can certainly pop, jib, and play around on trail just as much as other similar trail bikes, but its character biases more towards handling rough sections of terrain than returning all the energy you put into the pedals.

Overall, there's something almost blasé about how effective the Fluid is - it just gets along with anything, without any real shortcomings in any specific direction. At the risk of sounding like Levy, sometimes you want a bike that excites you a bit, but in this case the bike is happier to keep you on the line and in control. Climbing and descending both feel well-controlled and capable, giving the bike a predictable feel regardless of what you throw at it.

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Norco Fluid Carbon
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Transition Smuggler

How does it compare?

These two bikes are very similar on paper, with geometry, travel, wheel size, and intended terrain all hitting the same notes. There are small differences in bottom bracket drop, stack, and seat tube angle, but ultimately it comes down to ride feel, value, and on-trail feel.

The Smuggler feels like an energetic and zippy bike, up and down the hill, whereas the Fluid is a bit more composed and muted in rough terrain. That might just come down to the Fox vs. RockShox feel difference on the two builds I tested. If weight is your ultimate goal, then the Smuggler's all-carbon frame is going to be a better option for getting the grams as low as you can.

I'd have a hard time choosing an all-out preference between the two, and ultimately the decision would probably come down to value, where the Norco handily wins. Equivalent builds are thousands of dollars cheaper, and any outstanding component you'd want to upgrade could be done well within those savings.

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Which Model is the Best Value?

This might be cheating, but I have to give the value award to the highest end Fluid A1 build. Yes, it's not a Fluid Carbon, per se, but the bike is essentially the same beast, and the value is much higher.

For just under four thousand American dollars, you get a very capable mountain bike, suited to beginner or seasoned rider alike. In comparison to the highest end Carbon build, I still prefer some of the components on the Alloy model - 34 over Pike, TRP Trail EVO over SRAM G2. The difference between the two is less than a pound, and again, the frame's performance is pretty much identical.

If I were constrained to the carbon options, I'd probably opt for the well-priced $2,099 frame kit (shock included), and build it up myself with all the parts my heart desired.

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Technical Report

SRAM Transmission GX AXS Drivetrain: Still great, and particularly unfussy on this bike. The shifts were always good, the bike remained quiet, and the drivetrain does feel like a performance upgrade over other offerings. Whether it's worth the overall build's price hike, I'm a little more skeptical, but having that consistent and functional base does make the rest of the bike feel all the more dialed.

SRAM G2 RSC Brakes: I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. The G2s are fine, slowing you down with enough bite and some power on tap if you really reef on the levers, but they just don't offer the kind of performance modern trail bikes deserve. This build also came with SRAM's organic pads, which are quiet and have good initial bite, but fall short on long descents and are quite scary in the wet. I'd consider these the first upgrade item on the bike.

Vittoria Mazza / Martello Trail Tires: With a casing feel similar to Maxxis' EXO, and moderately sticky rubber, these tires are fine in mellower terrain, but pretty under-gunned as you start to push the bike in hard terrain and conditions. They lack the support to hold up at low pressures, and the rubber compound isn't as sticky as the competition, especially in the wet. They are light, so you'll have a nice quick-feeling set for faster trail days if such a thing appeals. The Fluid can push hard enough to warrant some serious rubber though, so I'd recommend picking some up.

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Pros

+ Composed, comfortable ride quality
+ Well-rounded suspension performance
+ Excellent geometry and size-scaling


Cons

- Alloy bike rides just as well, presents better value
- Grippy, comfortable climbing gives it more of a long-travel feel



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Fluid Carbon is a great trail bike, but so is the Fluid Alloy. If it were my choice I'd probably go with the latter, but luckily the choice is yours. Both offer well-controlled suspension performance, excellent geometry, and generally good components. There are many great trail bikes these days, but Norco really hit the nail on the head when it comes to ride feel and geometry for those who want to push their short-travel bike hard. Dario DiGiulio






Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
175 articles

194 Comments
  • 104 3
 What's the opposite of 'Cable tourism'?
'Cable stay at home vacation'?
Whatever it is bloody well done Norco, it's what we want.
  • 87 2
 Normal routing?

This is like the e-bike and acoustic argument. The new shit gets the dumb name, the old standard gets to keep the original name.
  • 16 1
 cable outing?
  • 12 1
 Cable lockdown.
  • 12 1
 Cable staycation
  • 15 0
 The right way? We don't need to come up with a term for not being knobheads.
  • 3 11
flag ajaxwalker (Jan 29, 2024 at 12:02) (Below Threshold)
 A cable spider nest. Cable spaghetti Especially if your short, the small bikes come with cables made way too long and looks terrible. Looks is really my only major complaint though.
  • 1 0
 Staycabletion
  • 82 14
 I would say if the Carbon version gets you "down" to 33lbs on your 130/140 bike, then yea just go alloy. I would want my 130/140 bike to be around 27lbs otherwise you may just as well get a 160mm bike. If your bike is going to be as heavy as a carbon enduro bike might as well get a carbon enduro bike.
  • 69 1
 I partly agree, but good luck with finding a 130/140mm bike at 27lbs around this price point that you can actually ride downhill reasonably hard.
  • 16 2
 Managed to build up a 28lb carbon Fluid. You have to chase grams where you can (tires and wheels) but it's certainly doable.
  • 58 9
 My 170 Enduro bike is 38.5lbs, and my 130 bike is 34lbs. Both bikes are reasonably speced and not low end. I honestly don’t know where people are getting sub 30lb bikes unless they are compromising on performance (weak tires?)
  • 23 1
 @devin-m: The bike is a sum of all it's parts so I suppose it depends. For me personally I have a 120/120 bike that is 24.2lbs and a 140/160 bike that is 28.5lbs. Tires I run are EXO/EXO on small bike and EXO/DD on the big bike. I would call these somewhat top-tier builds but they aren't using weak parts.

In reality it's often the parts spec that makes the biggest difference. Rims, tires, crankset and cassette can literally make two almost identical bikes 4lbs different. However for me (weight weenie) there's some frames that are just out of contention if you go uber light on the build spec and still get 30lbs on your 130/140 bike for example.
  • 7 4
 @devin-m: Yeah this. My 120mm bike is just a hair under 30 lbs and I wouldn't want to compromise it by trying to make it any lighter.
  • 8 0
 @gnarnaimo: I'd love to know what frame and build specs you have on that 120mm bike for context. I'm wondering if the frame is heavy or if you just threw $$$ at parts could you get the weight way down and same strength? Not saying you should, just curious.
  • 3 0
 @yupstate: It's a Tallboy, so not a light frame to be fair. And I definitely haven't tried to get the weight down, the way I ride it, it's great as is. My enduro bike is around 38 lbs, so the 30ish lb bike feels relatively light.
  • 5 0
 @cinco: I have my A1 down to just under 31lbs. The wheels are the only place I can realistically drop any more weight, the stock wheelset is awfully porky. This bike is such a prime candidate for something with Berd spokes. Maybe not in the bike park, but trail riding would be sick and would drop the weight significantly
  • 3 0
 @devin-m: my 130/140 trail bike is 13kg ( 28lbs) in stock GX build, nothing fancy on it, AL rims AL bar, only carbon is a frame
  • 14 0
 @devin-m: As a heavy-ish rider, I suspect that anyone who rides sub-30# trail bikes without worries is both uber light and technically adept. For me, sturdy casings, sturdy alloy wheels, sturdy hubs, and beefy brakes are absolutely necessary - and together with a size L or XL frame that doesn't fell like a noodle, even nicely (SLX/XT level-ish) spec'd carbon trail bikes won't go below about 34 (which is what my current Sentinel weighs).
  • 3 0
 @gnarnaimo: Tallboy 120-120 way to go! I made the same for a real DC bike! And not just a heavier XC! Old 34 SC in the front insteed of a Pilke. And remote lockout for the rear shock.
  • 7 0
 @devin-m: My aluminum gen 5 Fuel Ex 8 came stock right at 29# without pedals in a size medium. It's probably around 28# with carbon wheels, different brakes, bars, and tires from stock. Can't imagine pushing around a 34# trail bike. For that much weight I'd rather have a 150/160 bike.
  • 4 0
 @HMBA106: especially trying to get that low on a XL/XXL
  • 4 2
 @HMBA106: Pretty Sure this bike is 29lbs, full carbon with an arguably better spec for $1 more. www.specialized.com/us/en/stumpjumper-ltd-t-type/p/218303?color=352740-218303
  • 13 7
 A 27lb 130/140 trail bike is definitely compromising on durability and downhill capability. The carbon Stumpjumper is probably one of if not the lightest 130/140 bikes out there. I built my S3 (medium) at 28lb with carbon everything, xc tires, G2 brakes. It was essentially an XC bike with a little more travel and I hated it on anything other than smooth flow trails. I swapped in real tires, real brakes, piggyback shock and it was now a 31+lb bike that actually felt like a trail bike. With all the articles and scientific data on this chase for low weight being so utterly worthless I don't understand why it is still a topic for anyone other than xc racers. I have no idea what my current bikes weigh and I don't care because it really doesn't matter.
  • 3 5
 @schu2470: the reality is you really wouldn't notice the extra weight. New bikes are so efficient and climb so well this chase for oz is so unnecessary. Better leave that water bottle, tube, tire levers, and co2 at home because those 4lb will really make it seem like you're lugging around a tank lol
  • 10 3
 We are not living in the 90s anymore. Modern Bikes just don’t weigh the same, that doesn’t mean they are not as efficient at climbing, in fact they are probably better due to their geometry
  • 4 1
 @kingch24: You're probably right with the current crop of 130/140ish bikes out there because the frames are pretty burly to start with so you have to go uber light in the build to get 27-28lbs. I don't have experience with the new Occam but supposedly that can be built to around 26lbs. It's just about intended purpose and intended trails. I question why we can have so many 23-25lb 120mm bikes doing fantastic on some pretty aggressive trails, but then to add 10mm of travel we have to jump up 5lbs in weight? I think it would be great to have both. You have your 130mm bikes that are paired with 140-150mm forks and are meant for enduro-light, and then you have 130mm bikes paired with 130-140mm forks that are just slightly strengthened downcountry bikes; that's what i'm looking for. I love my 120/120 bike so much I almost never ride my 140/160 bike anymore. The only thing I wish for at times would be for a bit more plush suspension. So if someone made a 130/140 bike that with a decent build was 27lbs (3lbs heavier still than my 120/120) I'd be all over it if the geo was nice.
  • 5 0
 @kingch24: I feel like weight gets fixated on because its such a quantifiable thing. All else being equal lighter is better, but as the absolute definition of a clydesdale Im just not to pressed about it. I care about durability and flex a whole lot more
  • 14 0
 I too don't get the '34# 130mm trail bike'. However, 27#s is not easy to accomplish.
In my garage I have an all-out build (i.e. EEWings, Berd wheels, TS brakes, 11 speed drivetrain, Ti pedal spindles, Enve stem, etc.) L Carbon Smuggler sitting at 28#s ready to ride with decidedly 'trail' tires. If I remove my dual inserts, tools & pedals it's just under 26#s (as the manufacturers weight them). I'd have to ditch my tools and inserts to be 27#s with pedals, and I can't do that.
Have to say that light bikes with fast tires in this category are an entirely different experience than an AM/ Enduro bike. Sometimes the speed is so much greater on less extreme sections that I'm catching air on what is basically rolling flats and that's a pretty rad way to spice up more mellow sections of trail.
  • 11 1
 @SunsPSD: I agree. I think what happens with alot of conversations is the "all or nothing" mentality. Like ignore weight and have your 35lb trail bike or go nuts and have a 25lb trail bike. These are two very different bikes and I don't care what anyone says they ride very differently. However there is a limit to what makes sense. If you spend thousands of dollars to get your trail bike from 31lbs down to 29.5, I'm with you..not a game changer necessarily. Same thing with strapping a tube and tools to your frame and adding a 1.2lbs, you aren't all of a sudden going to feel like you're on a slug. But going in with a plan and building your trail bike to 27lbs is very different than grabbing a random "sweet" trail bike that is 33lbs. These two things are not the same. Just look at this review in the comparison to the Transition.
  • 5 1
 @yupstate: I just don't see the point. I jump around on different bike models so much and change components out so often I've just come to the realization that a few pounds in weight have no perceivable difference when you're on the bike. This realization has been repeated through pinkbike articles and even some more scientific minded youtube videos.
  • 3 2
 @devin-m: no shit! 30 pounds has been the sweet spot for a long time, too. Any less and the bike can't hold up to fun riding. And components all kind of weigh the same, even suspension, no matter the travel...
  • 4 0
 @yupstate: I think the beauty of trail bikes is you can build them up to be more xc focused or more enduro focused. I would argue that those differences are primarily independent of weight and rather the suspension design and components. Weight can be a byproduct of components chosen for the correct purpose based on the bike and desired terrain. A 10lb weight difference is obviously noticeable, but I don't think that's what we're considering here.
  • 7 0
 @TranceAllez: if you've made your bike lighter without upgrading your wheels...you're blowing it. Lighter wheels actually have a noticeable effect on the way your bike rides, Ti water bottle cage bolts do not.

but to each his own, I guess.

(you're blowing it)
  • 2 0
 It's about the rotating mass. It's been proven many times. Get the light wheels and feel the difference.
  • 3 2
 My 2016 Scott Genius 900 tuned weighs around 28lbs, and my current Specialized Stevo weighs what feels like 34lbs. I wish trail bikes go back to being light again.
  • 4 0
 @hurmikak: and light tires! Low rolling resistance tires in a light casing will make a bike feel like a rocket
  • 2 0
 I just got a Specialized Stumjumper Comp Carbon. It was one of the lightest 29" trail bikes I could get at a reasonable price. Compared to my 2009 Cannondale Prophet which had a 650b front wheel it's heavy and harder work on the uphills. When you compare the bike there is no getting away from the fact there is way more mass, the Specialized it much bigger. Where it out performs the Cannondale is on the downhills, it's way more stable.
  • 1 0
 @schu2470: 29 measured or 29 claimed on the website?
  • 1 3
 @devin-m: I'm convinced all these sub-30lb bikes are all Small or XS size frames.
  • 3 0
 @Hectorres2001: How is your Stevo 34 lbs? Mine is around 31 with pedals.
  • 3 0
 @yupstate: Yt Izzo core 4
  • 5 1
 @devin-m: I basically boils down to what you weigh and how you ride. If you aren't the typical fat ass North American and know how to pick a line you can get away with lighter parts without it being an issue.
  • 1 0
 @HMBA106: Stumpjumpers seem like the best choice for a 130/140 bike if you want to be under 30lbs. I built a custom mid-high end Optic last year and it ended up being 32lbs with pedals, avg trail tires, alloy wheels, full XT. I dont know what I would do different to save grams without it getting stupid expensive. But the Optic frame and shock are over 7lbs and the stumpy is only 5lbs with shock. Hoping to find a stumpy frame to swap and finally splurged on carbon wheels and that should get the bike under 30lbs.
  • 1 0
 @xciscool: 29# 1oz w/o pedals weighed at the shop before I took it home.
  • 2 0
 @g-42: 100%. I'm not light (but also not a clydesdale). I like my bikes on the bigger side so my Druid v1 is XL and my Meta is L (similar reach on both). Ain't no chance in hell I'm getting anywhere near 30lbs. Heck, I think my XT Druid build is close to my prev alloy bike in weight (34+ by feel). I really don't care as long as it isn't an absolute boat anchor.
  • 1 0
 They say them carby wheels make a big Diffy. But here I am still on my stock alloy wheels on my 130/140 carbon trail bike. I did the 3-pawl removal on the 370 like 2 years ago- in favor of the 54t ratchet. Of course I’ve been tempted to go all out on wheels. But I still feel emotionally invested in my stock crappy ones. Anyone who has done that job knows- suckers on there pretty good !
  • 2 1
 @kingch24: my two bikes are 3-4lbs different in weight and it’s noticeable. Also depends where the weight is and what tread pattern the tires have. It’s not a finite number you can say “now it’s heavy” or “now it’s light”. But I agree over a pound or two isn’t game changing. However a 33lb trail bike like the Norco vs 27-28lb and you are gonna feel it. Also depends on the rider for if you care. Some folks just pedal around chill and then like to bomb descents. I’m the typw to pedal hard and try to find jumps going uphill :-)
  • 1 0
 @devin-m: it’s just cost. Pivot trail 429 that’s 120/130 and I can ride as hard as a fluid. It weighs 28 lbs. could be less if money were not object
  • 1 0
 I was about to say, this bike weights more than my 2014 sight with 140mm and a 160mm basic fork!
  • 3 0
 @devin-m: I am guessing it is a matter of price? But for me, these bikes are expensive as they are.. don't wanna spend more, just to drop a few grams, while I am 15kg overweight =)
  • 1 0
 @yupstate: What is the 120/120 bike you are riding? I'm from the Albany area.
  • 3 1
 My XL steel Cotic FlareMax Gen4 weighs 33.9 lbs. Idk how this Norco is so hefty. I do have carbon bars, wheels, and saddle, but the rest of the components are budget and/or robust - Brand X dropper, Microshift Advent X, Continental DH tires
  • 1 1
 Totally agree, and I even wonder how these bikes can be so heavy. I ride a Large Alloy Transiotion spire, with coil shock, & DH tires, and it weighs 35lbs. I just chose the parts wisely not to get it too heavy and got to a fairly decent price.
  • 2 5
 @owl-X: Yup and a good lightweight carbon wheelset is like 2k. I picked the best specced bike I could afford and made a few small changes that dropped the weight a bit. You know not everyone has unlimited expendable income and we make due with what we have.

(you're an a*shole)
  • 9 1
 @jpnbrider: there's no way your large alloy spire weighs 35lb with a coil and DH tires. That's a 37lb bike without either of those added on. I had a medium spire with coil and dh tires, it was 39lb.
  • 2 3
 @yupstate: you have two of the same bike that have a 3-4lb weight difference? I'm guessing you have two different bikes with different weights and you notice the difference because they are different bikes. The same exact bike with the same exact components and you strap a 4lb weight to one of those bikes you will not notice the difference between the two one bit. It's like forgetting your hip pack and water bottle.
  • 1 1
 @HMBA106: YT IZZO does a good job
  • 2 0
 @whitebirdfeathers: DH casing plus a enough goodies to rebuild my bike in the swat box
  • 2 0
 @whitebirdfeathers: I got mine down to 30 pounds on the dot with pedals on a size medium and the only thing on there that’s weight conscious are cf wheels
  • 1 0
 @kingch24: Yes I bought the exact same bike twice just to have it at two different weights. :-) No, of course not, they are two different bikes. I have however changed out wheels, tires, cassettes, etc. on a bike and totally noticed a difference. I guess I'm curious at what point do you think weight DOES make a noticeable difference? My 140/160 bike came with an XT cassette. I swapped the rear hub to XD driver and put on an XX1 cassette. I weighed all the parts and it was about a .7lb difference on the rear wheel. You might think I'm dreaming but I noticed that difference big time on the trail not just in pedaling but also bike handling. It's not like an entirely new bike but it was more lively.
  • 4 0
 @yupstate: I think it's really hard to gauge how much weight it takes to make a difference so I'm not going to throw a number out there. In my experience I've just come to find that the performance characteristics of different components themselves are more than likely why the bike characteristics change, not the weight difference. Rotational mass is really the only place I have seen a noticeable change in ride characteristics that can be attributed to weight, but again only part of that change can be attributed to the weight itself. Lighter tires roll better because they have a les grippy compound and the tread pattern is not as aggressive. Lighter wheels are often narrower or not as stiff which can give a livelier feel. A coil shock is roughly 1-1.5lb heavier than an air shock and it feels very different on trail, but it's not the weight. To sum up, I just don't think weight is as important as we've been trained to think and I see more and more people agreeing with that including pinkbike writers, other publications and reviewers, well know youtubers, pro bike athletes, etc. That thinking agrees with my experience and I might have an engineering background that says this just makes sense from an engineering and physics perspective.
  • 2 0
 @kingch24: Not to mention if you are targeting weight savings and spending reasonable sums of your own hard earned money to achieve this, the placebo effect can really take place and push personal confirmation biases. Not that I don't believe a lighter bike might feel different, I just think the difference is more negligible than people believe it is.
  • 3 1
 @TranceAllez: Whoa. You are no longer invited on tomorrow’s ride.
  • 1 0
 @yupstate: Don’t forget suspension! +300-500g for coil on each end Smile
  • 4 0
 @kingch24: I guess the good news is that there's heavy and light bikes in the marketplace so we can all be happy. I feel like it's possible we both agree with each other it's just we might not be on the same page with the actual amount of weight. I do not think that if I swap from an XT to XTR derailleur that I'm going to be like "dayyyum, this thing is flying now!". But I do think that if you have two identical frames, one built to 30lbs and the other built to 35lbs that you will definitely notice this, especially climbing and moving the bike around on flowy trails. The 35lb bike is about 17% lighter so I just have to believe that you need a motor 17% stronger to accelerate at the same rate. I mean heavier cars have bigger engines. Seems to make sense to my simple mind.
  • 2 0
 @yupstate: 17% weight difference for the bike, but only 2.5% system weight difference for a 170lb rider.

It’s funny how almost everyone obsesses over the same bike weights, but 130lb and 220lb riders can end up on nearly identical ~34lb bikes. The heavier rider is going to consume wheels, drivetrain, suspension, bearings, tires, and brakes at a much faster rate.

Weight savings are best found on wheels, so long as the wheels/tires are robust enough for the intended use. Wheels are rotational and unsprung mass, which hugely affect the liveliness of a bike. A 35lb bike with 5lb wheelset will ride very differently than a 35lb bike with a 7.5lb wheelset.
  • 2 0
 @TurboDonuts: Right, and my silly typo I meant 17% HEAVIER, not lighter obviously. So someone educate me here. If I take this body weight and bike weight to the extreme. Let's say I'm 170lbs riding a 30lb bike and I go on a binger and gain 30lbs and now I'm 200lbs riding a 30lb bike. How can that feel the same as if I hadn't gained weight but all of a sudden I was riding a bike that weighed 60lb?
  • 3 0
 @yupstate: The energy required to move the total package (rider and bike) increases. But there's more to bike weight than that. As mentioned before rotational and unsprung mass are the greatest factors on the performance and feel and where weight counts.
  • 1 0
 @whitebirdfeathers: So I guess bike companies like Yeti for example having the Turq and non-Turq versions of a frame. Bascailly the engineering team (Who i assume have some pretty smart college degrees) just laugh and know they are actually BSing everyone and wasting time when they shave frame weight? They just want people to be happy to spend more $$?
  • 1 0
 @yupstate: the thing is it's not a direct relationship. 5lb weight difference will result in maybe 1-2% difference in efficiency on the same bike. You have to consider the entire system.
www.pinkbike.com/news/the-pinkbike-podcast-episode-92-why-bike-weight-doesnt-matter-as-much-as-you-might-think.html
www.pinkbike.com/news/opinion-why-weight-doesnt-matter.html
www.pinkbike.com/news/why-you-shouldnt-worry-about-weight-much.html
  • 2 0
 @yupstate: A slight reduction in weight has a slight reduction in energy output. It's marginal gains though on that front. But if you're building up a light weight bike every bit counts. Are they laughing? Sure they are but they also know people look at overall weight as some holy grail. You decide what's important to you in a bike then buy the one you like.
  • 1 0
 @kingch24: if you get a chance to go on holidays in France , feel free to visit me I ll show it to you Smile
it just has fox 36 , light wheels no inserts , light coil , e13 46t light cassette , magura brakes
do your Maths , this should work
  • 1 0
 @jpnbrider: 38-39lb bike all day, you won’t convince me otherwise unless you hacked off frame sections. I’m very familiar with the spire. You can hardly get a carbon spire to weigh 35lb.
  • 1 0
 @kingch24: Then , you don’t believe it , I am not so sad about it , and will keep riding my spire on +1000m elevation tours , and not be interested in short travel heavy bikes Smile
  • 37 0
 I've reached the point in my long MTB life that "Comfortable Companion" is a fetching headline.
  • 4 3
 For a good time, just add "in bed" to any of the bike review headlines
  • 3 0
 @Dogl0rd: Trek's 2023 Fuel EX-e Is Light & Nearly Completely Silent in bed.
  • 2 0
 @acali: you're killing me, that's so good lolll
  • 26 1
 Wait...so the cables go through the frame, and you don't have to unassembled everything to service the front end? I don't trust this. It's got to be a trap.
  • 23 0
 I feel like it's been a while since I've seen something as well-rounded as this. The price point seems appropriate, the specs are nice, and there are no unnecessary changes such as the headset cable routing. Looks like a fun bike overall. Good stuff
  • 6 0
 I got a Fluid last year (Aluminium) and can safely say it's a well rounded bike. Probably the most comfortable bike I've had in 30+ years of mountain biking. Doesn't excel at anything in particular but if it gets chunky you'll still be fine. I put a 36 on the front and it punches.
  • 4 0
 To be honest norco did a great turn after the pandemic ended, their prices were unreasonably high before but they're becoming the bikes to not consider but buy even in europe
  • 2 0
 @Noeserd: They were decent before then. The Ride Aligned has always been their thing. I'd say they finally got the geometry and seat angles right. My '13 Range was way too slack.
  • 5 0
 I agree - to me this is rig anyone of any experience level can ride most everywhere and not be over- or under-biked. Granted, some folks on mellower terrain might want a sub-30lb bike, but for the price, they might look past the mass and just get fitter. It’s a take on the Bontrager axiom of “strong, light, cheap - pick two”.

As for spec, it’s a little surprising Dario didn’t call out the unusual and most welcome choices of a OneUp carbon bar, and the alloy Synthesis wheels. Both in my experience the kinds of products I don’t expect to see OEM but instead natural upgrades. Bravo Norco!
  • 1 0
 @chezotron: they weren't in europe, prices were ridiculous here
  • 1 0
 I really liked this bike when I test rode the original alloy version. Felt immediately comfortable and it had great manner on the trail. Bit of a sleeper, imo, never really got the reviews I would have expected considering the performance value it brings to the table.
  • 2 0
 @Noeserd: www.bike24.de/p1517150.html
2499€ for the A2 is good value in my opinion. I bought it for almost the same price a year ago..

but you are right, the official prices for the Fluid in Europe were a bit ridiculous..
  • 1 0
 @Noeserd: Oh, I hadn't mean the pricing. It always seems to be bound to politics and tariffs. But their design has been pretty spot on for a while now. It's just been getting everything right that was the challenge. Glad to hear prices are becoming more reasonable in Europe.
  • 2 0
 @southshorepirate: I'd say this is the first bike I ever felt comfortable from the get-go. I'd never felt that on a bike before. It was....unsettling but very much appreciated, I'd say.
  • 24 1
 I don't know why people say the G2 brakes are bad, I've got them on a bike and think they are fucking useless, they elevate to bad with sintered pads.
  • 6 0
 Started typing my reply, then read your whole comment ;-)

G2s are utterly appalling.

I ran the RSCs with 180mm Centreline rotors on a 115/120mm XC/downcountry bike and the spongey-ness and complete lack of power - especially after a "sustained" braking effort of more than a few seconds - beggared belief.
  • 5 1
 Maybe it's because I grew up riding with cantis and have been through many different disc brakes over the last 20 years, but I'm honestly not sure what all the fuss is about. I'm running G2 RSCs with 203F/180R and sintered pads on a Canyon Strive and they work just fine, both in terms of power and modulation. I'm sure there are better brakes out there, but I feel like the gains are probably marginal rather than game changing. Riding at Derby last weekend, the only moments I had where braking was touch and go related to needing fresh rubber rather than better brakes.
  • 3 3
 What I don't understand is that it has become the norm that you get a 5000$ bike with Sram brakes, you have to change them on day 1. This or you need to run 200mm on a trail bike to get enough braking
  • 1 5
flag OneTrustMan (Jan 30, 2024 at 0:45) (Below Threshold)
 @dsut4392:
I have the RSC on my Trail bike since 2017.
Most reliable brakes I ever had, unlike the failed Shimano brakes.
A proper bleeding gets rid of all the sponge and they can be quite powerful with good pads and rotors.

The Code brakes are definitely more powerful, but for a trail bike my Guides are enough.
  • 21 2
 Fun fact, gases are fluids... You only need to cool it to make it a liquid.
  • 2 0
 Or compress it.
  • 22 0
 Or bop it.
  • 8 0
 Or twist it
  • 3 0
 Or pull it
  • 19 0
 Or fart harder
  • 3 0
 @skiboot1: That's a solid
  • 17 1
 So basically a 2024 updated-ish version of the Optic if you don't want to go to the high pivot Optic that is about to drop.
  • 1 0
 Is this for real? Like a deviate Highlander type thing?
  • 1 0
 So what is the difference now between the Optic and the Fluid if this one has a carbon frame now ?
  • 1 2
 Frame is almost identical, same mold it seems. Rear triangle a bit different.
  • 1 0
 @GoranNaVAjt: Look a little closer. They aren't the same.
  • 10 0
 I've owned the A1 for the last year and I'd say this review matches exactly with my experience on the bike. Climbing doesn't have a lot of "get up and go" but does provide good traction through techy climbing (which I suck massively at). It was a bit of a transition coming from my old Trance with a super supportive pedaling platform (also moving from a 30lb bike to a 33lb was noticeable)

But damn, the downhill performance is excellent. Steep gnar at the bike park, flowy local singletrack, it's all good on the Fluid. Dario might call it "capable and controlled", which it definitely is, but you can absolutely find some hold-onto-your-pants-ohshitohshit moments since it's not some 180mm megadozer. I love it
  • 13 3
 Those g2's are an L. Come on, for 6k I would expect better breaks, then again you are getting transmission and ultimate suspension. Never thought I would see the day when climbing well would be a con. Wow.
  • 9 0
 I know there is more to it then this when brands are speccing bikes, but if you want to go cheap on brakes the Shimano MT520s work great (or Deore).
  • 30 0
 I’d take top of the line brakes over a modestly useful but expensive drivetrain every time.
  • 16 0
 @Ttimer: Yuuuup!

My XT cable drivetrain leaves me nothing to complain about. And I'm pretty sure I'd be equally content if it was SLX or Deore. However, I'd be lost without really good brakes.
  • 6 0
 @Ttimer: yeah, great suspension, brakes and tires over top flight drivetrain any day.
  • 2 0
 I agree with Dario that the frame kit is the best value. You can spend USD 4.000 on the parts you like Smile
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: Amen to that!
  • 1 0
 And those G2s when the A2 spec comes with entry level TRPs, which feel and work great.
  • 5 0
 The worst thing is for less money they could've put the DB8 mineral oil SRAM brakes on this thing which are actually pretty good. The SRAM brake lineup should be Code RSC or the DB8 and that's it. Go ahead and get rid of everything else.
  • 1 0
 @mtmc99:
The new 6100 Deore brakes are crap through. I tried everything to make than less spongy and have at least the same power as my guides. Including changing the fluid to non mineral oil, because at freezing temperatures the had the infamous wandering brake point.

In the end I gave up and switched the levers to Shimano Saint which made a huge difference.
  • 14 2
 What happened to Shimano drivetrains? I prefer the direct (not delayed) crisp shifting over everything SRAM.
  • 4 0
 SRAM owns Rockshox and OEMs get a discount on drivetrains and brakes when they use Rockshox suspension. Personally, I wish it was more common to get a Shimano buildkit with Rockshox suspension but Shimano is often paired with Fox.
  • 7 0
 @schu2470: got XT/RockShox stock and was very pleased.
  • 12 4
 I road the A1 for 3 days in Horseshoe Valley (Ontario Resort) to a few top 20 on Strava, betting all of my PRs. It was a great bike. Kinda wish this was the same build with a Carbon triangle. Either way, Norco deserves to sell a boat load of these. Ride Aligned is a great feature that everyone should copy.
  • 11 0
 If the spec chart is correct then 175mm cranks on all sizes seems a little odd these days.
  • 6 0
 Probably too long for Size L. Way too long for S.
  • 7 0
 Biggest letdown with this new model... That gorgeous green metallic paint is not an option on the USA version of the Norco website.
  • 3 1
 Wow that is a letdown. Honestly that green is a big reason I picked the A1 as my new bike, it's so good in person. Reminiscent of British Racing Green
  • 5 0
 That color is gorgeous !!!!!!
  • 9 1
 Well done Norco, seriously considering this as the next rig...
  • 10 2
 Science teacher here: Gases are fluids. No need to liquify hydrogen.
  • 8 3
 Entire article summed up in 4 words: "buy the cheaper one"

I'm not sure I like the path Pinkbike is headed down with this one...
  • 2 0
 its a pretty standard geo formula... 470-490 reach, 64-65 HTA, 76-77 STA, 435 CS for most L Trail/Enduro bike

I guess my question is... is this really that much of an evolution from the optic? I didn't realize how close the Carbon bikes looked like each other and the slightly larger diameter shock.
  • 2 0
 What's terrible about the G2 brakes is that for much less money they could spec the DB8 brakes which are actually pretty good. I have them on my 55+ pound full power e-bike and they work pretty well. Typically I'm a Shimano guy and run XT on my enduro bike but the DB8 mineral oil SRAM brakes should be the default for anything that doesn't come with Code RSC's from now on.
  • 1 0
 I purchased the A4 for the frame only. Stroked the rear with a 210x55 ultimate coil (130-143mm) and 150 lyrik ultimate up front. Kitted out with sram GX and deity contact points. This is the best trail bike I have ridden in 30 years of riding / racing bikes.
  • 5 2
 600 grams is the difference of a full water bottle and an empty water bottle. My frames loses 600 grams by the end of every ride!
  • 2 0
 As much as I like some of the parts spec a little better on the carbon bike, the value of the alloy bike would be hard to pass up.. I think Norco really nailed it on the A1...
  • 2 0
 Does anyone have anything they can share comparing the fluid 29" to the sight 29" with the same groupset?

I'm looking for a new bike to replace my ancient Yeti SB66 and don't have a ton of money to spend.
  • 2 0
 I've got a sight c1 and an optic c1. Definitely get the sight. The sight feels just as efficient on flats and ups but destroys the optic on decents and jumps. The sight is awesome.
  • 1 0
 @darthsarge: TY Smile I will barely have the money for one bike and I want to choose well.
  • 1 0
 Looks very boring and mainstream. Likely an excellent sorted bike that will work for many years in many areas for many people. I would love one. I would love 4 or 5k usd cash more, but that is why I ride used bike that is very mainstream and all purpose while lusting for this exact type of bike. Change tires... change brakes "oh my" that gonna happen anyway. The transition looks equally mainstream, and I want it also!
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio

Where was most of the testing done? inquiring want to know

Squamish? Bellingham?

Curious on your thoughts about riding some of the spicier black trails? Good to go? or maybe look at the Sight?
  • 6 0
 Bellingham, Squamish, and some North Shore. The bike handles gnarly terrain very well, but the brakes and tires hold it back.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio: Thank you sir- Good call on the tires and brakes + good to know it can handle the spicier trails
  • 4 10
flag SunsPSD (Jan 29, 2024 at 11:36) (Below Threshold)
 @dariodigiulio: it feels like bike testing would maybe be more relevant, if bikes were tested primarily on the terrain that they are designed around.
I don't feel like the average rider buying a 130mm bike, is planning on Bellingham, Squamish & North Shore to be their primary ride spots.
  • 7 0
 @SunsPSD: I don't know if you've been to any of those places but the variety of trails is massive and you can ride a ton of stuff in each of those places on a 130mm bike, or even (gasp!) on a hardtail Smile
  • 1 0
 @SunsPSD: There are in fact blue trails in all of these locations. Also as a bike tester who rips, Dario is doing us a service by finding the limits of these bikes, so that the general population (anyone below or above his skill level) can determine for themselves if this bike suits their needs for what and how they plan to ride.
  • 5 1
 A real shame again Norco arent represented in the UK Frown
  • 1 0
 Tredz and biketart are stocking them…..biketart currently have the carbon fluid frame only for £1500….
  • 2 0
 @Dav82: nope, that's the last remaining UK stock. The distro which supply's them has dropped norco
  • 1 0
 @Endo79: seriously?? Did not know that!! Who was the distro?
  • 1 0
 @Dav82: yeah, zyrofisher were the distro. Recently tried to get hold of a norco shore, then I was told noone would be bringing them to the UK anymore sadly
  • 1 0
 @Endo79: what, Zyro Fisher?! They only picked Norco up last year after the previous distributor dropped them!
  • 1 0
 @Endo79: that sucks!! Shame they won’t be selling over here for the foreseeable…
  • 1 0
 @ripsilver: yep, it sucks. Maybe lack of demand. They only ever offered part of the norco range. Real shame
  • 2 0
 @Endo79: front half back half or just the idler?
  • 1 0
 @experthucker: whole bike
  • 2 1
 Another question I have... if the Fluid came out to be a goliath killer at its initial price point, is it still?

Can this boutqiue Carbon Fluid out perform a much older Stumpjumper Carbon or S-works
  • 8 8
 An additional 2k for a carbon front triangle?

So that takes this bike from an everyperson bike to a dental student bike.

What's with the carbon love? Have none of you seen a carbon frame break?

I'd rather have a well made aluminum frame any day.
  • 4 0
 I swear I've seen this front triangle, must be an optical illusion.
  • 1 0
 My guess is a carbon version of the Fluid means that we'll likely see an updated, burlier Optic in the near future (which is too bad, because that bike was near perfect as is).
  • 1 0
 Your guess is correct. A new Optic is on the way. tup
  • 1 0
 Carbon Fluid is taking over the Optic, but would be interested to hear Norco's plan for how the new Optic is going to fit into the model lineup. IE if needing more bike than a Fluid, why not go for a Sight?
  • 3 0
 Did a frame up build on this frame and really dig it.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a solid choice that would be the perfect bike for 90% of mountain bikers.
  • 8 6
 YT Izzo Core 3 is currently $2k cheaper and couple pounds lighter with a similar build
  • 2 0
 I really love my fluid! I’ve got a lowered 36 to 140mm and it’s a blast!
  • 1 0
 I ride the Flutic Wink (Optic with 150mm forks).

The bike is an absolute monster on the trails.
Love the short travel full suckers.
  • 3 0
 I like the color
  • 1 0
 Love the comeback norco has been making over the last few years. Love to see it
  • 1 0
 I bought the Alloy Fluid A1 and it doesn't impress me. Let me know if someone is interessted in a size S for 2'000$
  • 2 0
 33 pounds for a 130 travel bike is ridiculous ...
  • 1 0
 $6?? You can buy a used Sworks Stumpy Evo for that and it will be just as light and playful!
  • 2 0
 I do love me some gizmos
  • 1 0
 If you can afford it, it is worth it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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